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What to expect from Oregon's distance learning

Schools are starting to take steps to make sure kids can still learn even if it needs to be outside of a classroom.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Will our kids go back to school at all this year? We don't know for sure yet. But it's sounding more and more like the answer will be no.

Schools are starting to take steps to make sure kids can still learn even if it needs to be outside of a classroom. State education officials told school districts to prepare their distance learning plans by April 13. 

They’ve created sample lesson plans, outlining what remote education will look like.

  • Kindergarten and first grade will have 45 minutes of teacher-led learning.
  • Second and third grade will have 60 minutes.
  • Fourth and fifth graders will get 90 minutes of teacher time.
  • Middle and high school students will have half-hour classes, totaling three hours of daily instruction.

More: Distance learning planning tool from Oregon Dept. of Education

“That might look like a telephone call going over some instructional materials that have been sent to a child's home. That might look like an opportunity to have a Zoom chat with a few other students around a math lesson. That might look like full online learning for some," said Jennifer Patterson, Oregon’s Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Teaching Learning and Assessment.

Schools across the state admit they face numerous challenges including training and logistics.

“I guess part of the challenge for us, in Eastern Oregon, and that's probably not unique to Hermiston, is the number of students who don't have reliable access to the internet, and how we connect with those students with online resources,” said Tricia Mooney, superintendent of the Hermiston School District.

The tight timeline gives educators roughly two weeks to come up with a distant lesson plan.

"As teachers, we are still learning," said Casey Rodhe, a kindergarten teacher at Chapman Elementary in Portland. "With 5-year-olds, they just need a lot of different input and stimulation and you've got to be able to read the room. And you can't read a digital room."

Teachers suggest they're up to the challenge. But parents and caregivers play a critical role, as many families convert bedrooms and kitchens turn into everyday classrooms. 

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